Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Selective Listening

A client phoned me today and complained that she recently spent over $2000 for removal of asbestos ceiling in the house she bought 10 months ago, which I inspected and produced with a report.

She claimed that I told her that asbestos ceiling was fine. She listened to me and suffered loss. We did not counter argue but asked to go back and review the report before having further discussion.

We then found clear wording in our report:
“Texture coated ceiling may contain asbestos. Refer expert for further opinion. Do not brake the texture ceiling coating without protection.”

I do not think she intentionally took the chance and blamed me for misleading or negligent, but why she felt that she got misled when we clearly mentioned asbestos ceiling in the report? The problem must be related with our onsite verbal consultation.

Most client ordered inspections in a situation when they faced critical lifetime decision making. Most client ordered inspections because they loved a house. Like normal human being, they would selectively listen to our inspection outcomes. Even though they tried to memorise our conversions as much as they could, they would naturally remember the information which is pleased for them, i.e. positive information and make their own summary. “You mean the house is not leaking?” “So there are no major issues” such selective summaries out from client’s selective listening are familiar to most inspectors.  

I would clearly mention about cost involved with asbestos removal, potential danger to contractors dealing with it and potential harm to occupants exposed to unprotected asbestos. However, she only remembered information such as “as long as protected and remaining undisturbed asbestos ceiling will have no adverse effect to occupants health and safety”. She likely even further selectively listened and summed as “asbestos ceiling will have no adverse effect to occupants”.

There is no doubt that onsite verbal consultation is extremely important for clients to efficiently and clearly understand our inspection reports, verbal consultation must be accompanied by properly drafted written report. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

More About Verbal Inspections

I carry out more risk by providing verbal consultation to my clients and not charging any extra for that service and that is why most inspectors do not provide such services. My hourly earning gets more if I do not provide verbal consultation not talking about lowering my professional risks. There are some decent reasons for spending my time absolutely for free for such services, which should be seriously considered by lawmakers and other building inspectors or building surveyors:

  1. For people not understanding English, verbal consultation is the only chance for them to receive the benefit of having inspection services;
  2. Verbal consultation is the only way for me getting to know my clients in person. Written reports can only get better tailored when I know the clients. Any house can be a good house as long as it is owned or sold to the right family, which I can only tell when I know them. I do ask some questions to my clients during my verbal consultations so that I know if they are targeting the right property;
  3. There is always something which cannot be incorporated into written reports, but is so valuable for clients to know. I deliver that kind of information to my client through verbal consultation. Yes, I may carry more risk by doing that, but putting risk avoidance in priority can never make myself a good inspector;
  4. Verbal consultation is such a good way for people to enjoy the benefit of having professional inspection services when otherwise would be unaffordable, specially if failing one auction after another one;
  5. In situations when inspection findings are so negative that clients simply give up for attending to the auctions, what the point for issuing the written reports in a country when housing affordability becomes a real issue?

I have been providing verbal consultation as part of my inspection services for more than 7 years since 2009. Here are some interesting findings:

  1. More and more clients, which ordering full inspection reports, changed mind and stayed for verbal only after my onsite consultation;
  2. Asian clients seem to order verbal consultation more than any other nationalities;
  3. More and more client upgrading to full written report after winning auction or signing purchase agreements comparing to past years;
  4. Most people, including English speakers and even many lawyers, having difficulties reading inspection reports;
  5. Most and more clients wanting to ask questions, which would not be answered in standard written inspection reports;
  6. Significant number of clients think that written report is simply putting in writing for what had been said by inspectors during verbal consultation;
  7. Most clients, who ordered full written report for their first inspections and failed auctions, would go for verbal consultation next time and thereafter;
  8. Many lawyers, who know me well, asking verbal consultations for themselves when they were buying, even though they know better than anybody else that verbal report legally is not a report in terms of NZS 4306;
  9. Most Asian clients would present themselves on site during my inspection, while other nationalities more likely to make phone calls after inspections for verbal consultation;
  10. Almost every client would ask me during verbal consultation how much I thought the property would worth even though they perfectly know that I’m not a valuer.

What I have decided so far is I will keep going with my verbal consultation service regardless all the critics, meanwhile, I would appreciate if my clients could understand the following points:
  1. Please DO upgrade to the full written report when the purchase is secured, i.e. after winning the auction or signing the agreement;
  2. If you have any doubt about the legality of the verbal consultation service, please ask for written report, as I would love to do that, which is what I rely on for living;
  3. Please treat verbal consultation as the first half of my inspection service rather than a different type of report comparing to a full written report;
  4. Please take the advantage for asking me regarding ideas or possibilities of proposed alterations, additions, improvements, future potential, comparison with other properties, suitability for family status, related cost estimates, architectural or aesthetic perspective etc. as long as time allows;
  5. Do not follow me during the inspection as I will get disturbed and lose my focus. Ask me questions or remind me for your concerns before I start and I will talk to you in a private environment after finishing my inspection;
  6. Try not asking me if I’m qualified, certified, registered or insured when I’m already on site. Do your homework regarding my background before booking the inspection.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Comments on risk of flat roof with internal gutter

It is no doubt that flat roof incorporating internal gutters is regarded as a high risk design feature.

The economic risk and return theory is generally applied to building design as well. While risk of leaking is higher, flat roof can often gain higher usage of limited building platform, achieve a better view, achieve desired exterior looking, hide unsighted features, bring more light into interior space and so on.

As long as well designed, well built and well maintained, just as any other exterior features, flat roof with internal gutter can be well performed or even out-performing many other type of roofs. It is problematic only when either design, or construction or maintenance side has got any problems, such as no consideration was taken by the designer for future maintenance and replacement, incorporating overly complex junctions, substandard materials being used during construction, poor construction workmanship, minimum or no maintenance by occupants and so on.

Flat roof incorporating internal gutter is a building element, which inspectors should keep good eyes on rather than simply relying on inspection tools only. It is a typical feature, which to be assessed from design, construction, historical and current performance, likelihood of future major issues, expected serviceable life and other perspectives. A competent building inspector should deliver a lot more comments than simply stating “leaking or not”.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Why there is a common “perception” that stucco houses have “no value” comparing to “other” building finishes?

First of all, common perception does not necessarily mean correct. Otherwise, there is no need to have any scientific study. It is actually more to the other end, i.e. common perception is often wrong.

This common perception comes from a summary of following common misunderstanding:

Most of leaky houses are “monolithic” houses;

Many monolithic houses are clad with “Stucco”;

Stucco is a high maintenance material;

Stucco houses cost fortune to reclad;

Stucco has got poor ventilation ability, therefore moisture can be easily trapped within framing;

If I need to make a correct statement, I would put it in the following way:

A poorly designed, poorly constructed and poorly maintained complex timber framed house clad with direct fixed stucco may have “no value” if exterior wall framing timber is under-treated.

We have to look at a stucco building from many perspectives, such as design, construction, maintenance, building envelope simplicity, timber treatment, cladding system, location, wind zone and etc. before we can make any judgement.

To explain where this common perception comes from, consider the following workout:

Many externally complex houses leaked;

Many externally complex houses used stucco;

So stucco causes leaks.

There are a lot of reasons why complex buildings have used stucco as their cladding system. I will do some separate writings for that topic. But should people somehow decided to use other type of cladding, e.g. weatherboard as the main cladding system back during that leaky building era, we now many have a totally different common perception.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

开发商成片开发的新盘,如Universal Home在Rodney以及Long Bay开发的新楼盘,也有问题吗?

Q: Have you found any major issues for houses being built within large developments such as houses built by Universal Homes in Rodney or Long Bay?

A: In general, it is true that well reputable building companies with long building history tend to deliver good quality buildings.

When it is unfair to say that small and newly established building companies tend to build poorly, it is a truth that most of problem new builds are built by un-experienced new-comers or small developers.

Reasons are obvious. Sole traders or small developers tend to cut cost by reducing management inputs or completely ignore construction management. It is also common for some small building companies or spec owners to limit their construction management in price bargaining only.

This finding is not a secret for most buyers. This is why spec house built by large reputable companies are selling more in general. You get what you pay for. This is also a universal rule of thumb for housing industry.

Here is a very interesting topic: Can small building companies, sole traders, individual developers and the like build as good as other well established building companies? I will talk about that during future coming events. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

If the building does not have a cavity, the building will have leaking problem sooner or later. Is that correct?

Of course, not.

Even under current NZ Building Code and related building standards, as long as design risk is low enough (simple plan and form, within low wind zone, single story, wide eave and etc), a building’s exterior wall cladding can still be installed without cavity.

Looking at the whole NZ building history, majority of buildings were built without cladding cavity. Most of those building have been well performed without suffering major weathertightness issues.

Looking at buildings built during so called “leaky building era”, i.e. during 1995-2004, not all buildings built without cladding cavity suffered weathertightness issues. in fact, most buildings built without cladding cavity have been well performed.

Solutions for solving leaky building issues have never been only limited to providing cladding cavity only. Every single recladding project will not just involve providing cladding cavity, but also incorporate some redesign of inadequate details, rectification of defective structural details, repair of non-weathertightness related defects, make good to poor workmanship and etc.

From building inspection point of view, cladding cavity has never been a major factor for us to determine if a building is “leaky”. If we are satisfied in terms of design, construction, workmanship, maintenance and etc for a building, we will regard the building as “weathertight” regardless it contains a cavity or not. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Post/beam connections – Practice vs. Compliance

Here are some perfect examples to show different results from good building practices vs. details in accordance with NZBC AS1 or NZS 4306.

A good building practice:

Post/beam connections simply sandwiched with nailed 4x2 on each side. The connection was built 35 years ago and showing no deformation at all.
Today if you draw that detail and apply for a building consent, you need specific testing to verify that this detail would meet our Building Code.

A detail in line with NZBC AS1 and NZS 4306:

The post/beam connections are fixed with stainless nail plates on each side. Connections are severely deformed and twisted. By the way the details have formed at 2009.

So, as a pre-purchase building inspector, how do we judge the above details? 

It is simple when you know the first detail has formed some 35 years ago. But what about if same detail is formed today? Do you raise concern due to deviation from our Acceptable Solutions/Standards or happy with that? Do you believe same timber sandwiched post/beam connection formed today will be able to perform for at least 35 years?

Are there leaky type claddings?

A very common question is: the house is clad with xxxx, will it leak?

In my past 6 years of inspection I never found any leaky house, which leaked purely because of cladding type itself.

Similar question is studied in a recent Branz Bulletin – Ventilation drying behind wall claddings, the question is:

Are some cladding types more leaky than others?

The findings are quite surprising for many people:

Low leakage claddings:
New freshly painted weatherboard walls
Well maintained continuous sheet claddings,
Metal and PVC weatherboards with tight-fitting overlaps and effective jointers at corners
Average leakage claddings:
Well maintained painted timber or composite weatherboards with few obvious defects
Leaky claddings:
Warped and cracked unpainted weatherboards
Non-rendered brick veneers

Two interesting notes to be made here:
  1. ·         Combination of factors such as build quality and maintenance rather than cladding type itself will determine the leakidity (how likely to be leaky) of a cladding.
  2. ·         More publicly accepted leaky types of cladding, such as sheet cladding, are not listed under leaky cladding. Well-reputed cedar weatherboards and brick veneer are summed as leaky claddings.

But there is one fact which is commonly agreed by everybody: Most leaky buildings are monolithic clad buildings. But can we rephrase it as: monolithic cladding likely to leak? Wanted or not, majority of public think that way, and that is the main reason why monolithic clad houses are selling with discounted price. 

I have always enjoyed in challenging public perceptions, here are my questions:

If you simply replace the cladding of leaky buildings with weatherboards, but without redesign junctions, joints, ground clearance, balcony details, will you stop leaks? The answer is No.

Or put the other way: we build two houses, one with direct fixed weatherboards, another one with direct fixed fibre cement sheets, all with untreated timber framing, all with no clearance to ground surface, all with fully enclosed membrane balcony, all with windows without any flashing, all without eave overhang, all with poor workmanship to detailing. Will the weatherboard house be survived when fibre cement house be leaking like shit? The answer is No.

If cladding type is not the one to blame, what to blame? Design? Workmanship? Then the whole Country likely has targeted the wrong thing again. Looks like we no longer building any plaster houses, which itself never been the reason causing leaky building issues. But we have not improved anything from design and workmanship point of view. Will that mean another construction disaster in the near future? We will see. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What sort of remedial work will be needed?

This question has been asked hundred times whenever a cladding defect or issue is shown up in an inspection report, specially in the background of monolithic type wall cladding.

We can be relatively relaxed when talking "verbally" regarding various alternative solutions and possible ball park figures. But when being specifically asked "officially", it might be not that easy to give a clear answer. Here are some of the reasons why we can be quite struggling in giving a clear answer:

  1. I may simply not know the right solution how to remediate the cladding defects. That is so understandable during a pre-purchase inspection stage, when in reality, we might only allocate a few minutes for the subject defect which got mentioned in the report among hundreds of other issues. You may think that I'm not competent. But even when I carry out defect investigations, a particular defect may take me days or weeks to workout why it can go wrong or is it really wrong, before even start to think how can we get it right. 
  2. Different client may have totally different expectations regarding how far a remedial work need to go. Simply stop leaks by squeezing a tube of silicon? Or tape it so it won't leak for a couple of years? or retro-fit a piece of flashing so it won't leak for a while? or check if any damaged timber need to be replaced? or replace any damaged timber and also redesign the cladding junction so it will never leak? or more funny question: what about if we think it leaked, but it did not?
  3. What about if different Council officers or different Council divisions may have different requirements in terms of what time of remedial work can be consented? Some Councils may simply reject issuing consent for any target repair works for direct fixed monolithic wall cladding, but other Councils may be relax with what so ever you what to do. 
  4. What about if no designers and contractors are willing to take care of any target repair works for direct fixed monolithic wall cladding? By the way this is the reality when everybody got enough workload. 
  5. What about if no consents can be obtained from neighbors within the crosslease property? Do other neighbors have to give you the consent?
  6. More importantly, no defects exist in isolation. Most defects within a building are some how related directly or indirectly. Solution simply can not be given to any single defect without considering the background of the whole building or the whole complex. 
We are sorry to discuss this topic, but it is terribly true that we can not give you too much information regarding any remedial solution in terms of monolithic cladding defects in the background of pre-purchase non-invasive visual inspection. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A significant case to be followed

See the following new on Herald for some background:

Leaky home owner has 'arguable case' against seller

Can also see the case summary listed on High Court website for a clear picture:

Edwards v Cull [2014] NZHC 1556 (1 July 2014)

The case has just kicked off and yet to have a long journey to go, can easily drag years to finalise. There are 13 respondents involved, including the previous owner, real estate agent, builder, engineer, inspectors, and of course Council. 

Here is the simplified summary of the case process up to date:

The current owner Edwards bought the St Helier's "concrete" house back early 2011 from the previous owner Culls, which showed a positive inspection report produced by Dwell Healthy Homes (Dwell) during marketing of the property. Being impressed by Dwell's report, Edwards have engaged another inspector Chris Underwood, which has found some high moisture spots and recommended further invasive inspections. Chris's report was challenged by Dwell, which indicated to Edwards that Chris is not competent. Some how Edwards decided to trust the previous owner's inspector, went ahead to the auction and bought the house, which found 2 years later to be seriously leaking and needs some 700k for repair works. 

This first stage court decision has found that: Edwards have got some solid stands to sue the previous owner Culls, even though the "positive" report is not produced by Culls, and Culls never had any clue the house was leaking. While this has got nothing to say that Edwards will win the case, this case is worth to be seriously monitored as it may become a floodgate from the following aspects:

  • Vendor may be liable for a cosmetic inspection report showed to potential buyers during marketing stage;
  • An inspector producing a cosmetic report for a vendor may become liable for potential buyers;
  • Vendor may be liable for opinions given by his/her real estate agent and inspector;
  • Councils may be liable for concrete leaky buildings, which leaked, but may not be suffering structure integrity issue.
There are going to be some more related hot topics such as:
  • How to judge which inspector is competent for doing inspections?
  • Which inspector can be relied on, the Vendor's or the Buyer's?
  • How the Joint and several liabilities in a more complicated background can work (All 13 respondents are "Live"). 
The case can also remind some arguable concepts:
  • Who said post 2005 houses would be safe?
  • Who said cavity based houses would be safe?
  • What said Limitations and Disclaimers will make inspectors safe?
  • Who said concrete house will be OK?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Vendor's duty to disclose major defects.

We have carried out an inspection and issued a report during May 2013, in which moisture issues within converted ground floor space were raised to the purchaser.

Subsequently the purchaser expressed concerns to the real estate agent, which assured that the moisture has caused due to splash water from stored fish tanks.

Somehow major leaks observed following a heavy rainfall soon after settlement date. Of cause we were called back for further investigation. Our opinion was: the leaks are likely caused due to defective waterproofing and inadequate drainage discharge to the concrete block wall. The leaks were triggered and worsened by the accidental gutter damages caused by the house moving truck.

Following further inquiries and investigations, it was revealed that the vendor has engaged an drainlayer to carry out tanking and drainage work for the ground floor alteration before marketing the property and the drainlayer was called back to investigate the tanking failure just before settlement date.

Now the vendor is getting sued through district tribunal. A first hearing is due end of this week. I was told to expect a witness phone call from the tribunal. It is going to be a interesting to see the whole process. The real estate agent is likely to get jointed at a later stage.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Verbal report - a controversial type of inspection

We are doing building inspections in accordance with NZS4306, where it is clearly stated that a written report is to be issued as a part of the inspection service.

There are certain inspection companies, which are rejecting to carry out any verbal-only inspection because of the following reasons:

  • Non-compliance with NZS4306;
  • Lack of control in regard of what inspectors are talking about on site;
  • Potential liability due to lack of written proof;
  • Potential inconsistency between verbal consultation and written report;
  • lack of control to what type of questions being asked on site by clients.

We still keep providing verbal inspection service for many reasons, which I have explained in the past and will provide further opinions later on. Here is a fresh case just happened a couple of days ago:

A client called from a small town outside Auckland inquiring about an urgent verbal-only inspection for a house to be auctioned next day. Reasons for verbal consultation would be simple: firstly, client has never seen the house by eye; secondly, time is so limited that there is no way we can issue the report at the same day, furthermore, client is waiting to make the decision regarding auction attendance based on our inspection result.

We have provided the verbal only inspection service. The first thing we have told the client is that the house is directly under a high voltage power line. This factor would be so obvious for normal buyers, but the client is not aware of that, simply because never seen the house by eye and there is no such information disclosed by the vendor and the real estate agent on the advertisement.

It is to be clarified that, verbal consultation is not regarded as a full inspection, but should be regarded as a major part of the inspection. When time is constrained, this type of consultation is the only way a inspector can deliver valuable information to the client. Though all should be agreed that a written report eventually is to be issued if client has ended up buying the inspected property.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Common misunderstandings - Leaking cladding material

Leaking cladding materials are commonly used to describe some monolithic type of cladding materials, such as texture coated fibre cement, EIFS, solid plaster and etc.
We receive phone calls almost everyday asking questions such like: We interested in a house, but got HardieTex cladding, can I buy it? The house is chilly bin house, will it leak?

If leaky buildings are defined based on types of wall cladding only, then we can simply put a label on each house "leaker" or "non-leaker". But nothing that easy. Contributors causing leaky building syndrome are many: Design, workmanship, location, framing treatment, maintenance and so on. I would categorize cladding material as part of design consideration rather than a separate driven factor causing leaky building syndrome. Every single type of wall cladding has its pros and cons. As long as material characteristics are fully taken into consideration during design stage, even paper can be fully weathertight.

While doing wall cladding inspection, first thing we do is to identify the type of wall cladding used. Then we do not make our conclusion about leaker or non-leaker straight after identifying the cladding type. We need to carry out detailed examination about design and construction details based on the type of cladding and other factors.

There are problematic building materials, but non of them can be categorized as Leaking material. In fact any cladding material, while wrongly used, can be problematic.

对批灰房的检测新趋势 Latest Trend in Inspecting Monolithic Houses


  1. 很多人被动检测,即律师或者银行或者保险公司要求,而非买家要求;
  2. 买家对批灰房的状况大致已经认可,只要银行同意贷款就买;
  3. 买家中很多是业内人士,对这类房子的理解已经到一定的深度;
  4. 批灰房的整体状况良好,几乎没有任何一个批灰房有明显的漏水迹象;
  5. 买家对检测人员的要求上升到新的高度,即不是简单的使用仪器测湿和罗列湿度指数,而是需要对设计,施工质量,维护历史,当前表现,将来预见,维护方法,维护费用,换外墙设计,换外墙费用以及换外墙可行性等进行系统分析;
  6. 银行对批灰房的放贷不再是一刀切,而是具体情况具体分析,对检测报告的审查不再是只看指数,而是看全面分析;
  7. 中介在卖房过程中只是简单提供手头信息,而不做进一步评论;
  8. 询问红外线检测的比列逐渐下降,甚至已经有部分客人被告知红外线检测报告不可信;
  9. 询问湿度报告客人的比列逐渐下降。大部分客人变得相对理智,要求在检测的过程中要包含对湿度的评价;
  10. 售价完全不反映房屋实际情况,事实上有些很好的房子被中介或者房东当作漏水屋来卖。


Tuesday, May 27, 2014



  1. 对新西兰的房产状况不甚了解,按照对国内房产的审核方式来筛选这里的房产;
  2. 买房前缺乏独立的第三方的把关。在合同无条件之前不听取律师的建议,合同变成无条件后才交送到律师手里,已经没有回旋余地;
  3. 由于大部分海外买家是现金买家,也就自然得不到银行对房产的审核。有很多新西兰本地的人也会不经意买漏水房或问题房,但经常是迫于银行要求做房屋检测,才发现房产有严重问题,也算是幸运。
  1. 没有有效的付款追讨机制。如果买家做完检测后不付款,检测人员基本没有有效办法来追帐;
  2. 大部分海外买家也不愿意在没有看到检测结果之前和在没有确定检测服务是否满意之前做预付;
  3. 一部分海外买家会自然产生侥幸心理,觉得距离感很安全,没有付款的紧迫感;
  4. 国内的三角债,托帐等心态很普遍,很自然的被应用到这一服务当中;


Friday, March 28, 2014


Linea weatherboard 是水泥纤维材质的外墙版,模仿bevel back weatherboard 的形状,成分中含有一定陶瓷类的东西,目的是为了减轻单位重量。特点是易打理,适合深色油漆,对油漆的粘合性好,不腐烂,抗水性好,不易变形。由于通风,渗水,挡雨等的物理特性和普通bevel back木墙板类似,没有理由担心这种外墙本身会导致严重漏水问题,何况漏水和外墙种类并没有直接关系。换句话说,采用什么样的外墙,如果在设计和施工方面有问题,都有可能漏水。

由于板材本身以及配料辅料都相对木墙板贵些,安装时需要先钻孔(pre-drill before nailing)再加上需要不同种类的切割工具以及额外粉尘防护手段等,导致这种外墙面的安装费用相对普通木墙板会贵些。针对经济适用房和过于普通的房屋,采用linea的不多,但某些建筑公司,尤其是造中高端房子的公司经常用这种材料。

这种材料的历史只有不到20年,但水泥纤维板材的历史已经有几十年了,以此类推,它的实际寿命应该不会少于50年,也就是说会远远超过法定的15年最低寿命,当然影响寿命的主要因素中还有维护,这里就不再多说了。就板材的物理表现,我没有发现有很多问题案例。我检测的用这类材料的房子中只有一例有严重施工质量问题(注意是施工质量而不是材料本身问题)。由于普通的小规模建筑公司不太用linea,采用它的公司又大多是有一定信誉的公司,所以根据我们检测的结果还是表现不错的。我本人比较偏好这种材料,我在04年以后就没有再用过普通的木墙板(pine weatherboard)。

当然有些人说这种材料将来会有问题,甚至有些kiwi builder也说过类似的话,但目前并没有任何理论和实际的根据。材料研究机构实际上对目前采用的所有外墙材料都有全面的测试和研究。我还没有看到任何一个针对linea的很负面的研究报告。一般如果问题出现是先从个案开始,而后引起专业人士的注意,再加以调查研究,最后才会到媒体曝光,然后是尽人皆知,再被小题大作,或过分解读。如果和漏水房问题相比较,漏水房问题是在90年代初就有了很全面系统的业内调查报告,但大众是在10年以后才逐渐明白,相关法律的出台就更滞后了。就此分析,即使我的分析不具有权威性,那我至少没有看到任何一个权威性的警告分析。我所看过的所有房屋署的评判报告(determination)以及漏水房调解法庭(WHT)案列中没有发现一例是针对linea的诉讼。至于传言(rumor ),我不感兴趣。

Tuesday, January 21, 2014




1. 购房检测报告(pre-purchase inspection report)都包括什么
购房检测报告是属于状况报告(condition report)的一个种类。很明显,需要对房屋的各个部位的状况进行描述。具体到房顶,种类,大致年龄,目前整体状况,具体部位状况,常见隐患,历史问题,注意事项应该都有所说明。这些解释和说明通常有如下作用:便于买家对房屋的整体了解,以便于日后维护和监测,明确表明检测人员对于房屋的理解,作为买卖双方协商和讨价还价的证据等等。基于此,如果你的铁皮房顶有螺钉松动,生锈,锈蚀,油漆剥落,挡雨板老化(loose fixings, surface corrosion, corroded spots, paint flaking or peeling, flashing deterioration and etc)等等一系列问题,这些问题不应被检测人员疏忽,虽然这些问题并不意味房子在检测过程中正在漏水。

2. 是否只有下雨的时候才能够看出来漏不漏
可以这样说,但漏水隐患是应该在任何天气状况下可以看出来的。对于“当时是否正在漏水”这一问题的回答当然需要有一定环境,如是否正在下雨,是否下过雨,雨量大小,风速,风向,人为掩盖等等。如果检测人员把界定是否当时漏水作为检测的目的和唯一行为(If observing current leakage is the only aim and action of the building inspector),这个人应该早晚会有麻烦。每一个检测人员都有可能在检测过程中漏掉或没能发现正在漏的区域,只要是在“尽职尽责”的框架内都是可以理解的,但对房屋的整体评价和对状况以及隐患的分析评估应该不受外界因素的影响。这一原则尤其适用对漏水房的检测,因为漏水房的贴点是:都是在建成后的一定时间以后才开始漏,大部分的漏店无法目测到或用仪器探测到,卖家都要在绝佳的天气状况下和进行了一定的粉饰后才会拿出来卖。这些虽然会导致检测人员无法测到当时的漏水,但不应该影响他对这个房子的结论。
虽然下雨会有助于观测到漏水,其实有时候反而会对检测有负面影响,例如,检测人员可能会产生错觉,认为如果下雨都不漏,那应该就没问题。其实不然,漏水的源头不只是雨水,还有凝结水,风力驱动和虹吸(condensation, wind driven rain, capillary action and etc)等等。下雨还有可能限制检测人员的行动,如不能够爬入或者攀上某些区域。不过有经验的检测人员应是全天候的。

3. 如果检测后的房子发生漏水后第一反映应该是什么

4. 检测行业纠纷解决的相关法律途径

其他的可能投诉机构还有NZIBS, NZIBI, LBP, BOINZ等等,但要取决于检测人员所属机构。

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Settlement between James Hardie And the Ministry of Education

See the following link for some background idea about this case:





Also see my previous blog in Chinses when this case just popped out:


It is the most disappointing case so far I have heard for the following reasons:

1. We yet to see a milestone case, when a product manufacture is liable for a leak building lawsuit. We can see the Ministry of Education has proofed that. But why keep it confidential?

2. Almost all councils, specially councils within the great Auckland region, have paid massive amount of money to leaky building owners, simply because it always has been the "last party standing". In most cases James Hardies products were involved. We all know that, councils money is our money, the ratepayers money.

3. This case could well be the milestone, when almost all precedent cases could be overturned. At least, from technical point of view, we need to proof that scientifically and make it public available: How "texture coated fibre cement" as a cladding system, can fail, when other variables (workmanship, design complicity, location, maintenance and etc) are constant. This technical topic is vital for both building surveying and building inspection fields.

For the sake of New Zealand Public, all findings behind this case are to be revealed.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

List of "questionable" recommendations to property buyers given by some legal advisers

Some legal advisers are taking a lot of care for their clients who are in the process of buying houses and keen to give some professional advises to assist buyers in their decision making, here are some examples:

  • Go and find a building inspector, who charges $1000 or more, because you get what you pay for. 
  • You need to get a report, which shows moisture % for every room inspected.
  • Get a report, which shows blue and red colored pictures, the blue spots show you where leaks are.
  • Do thermal report (infrared report) rather than standard inspection report.
  • Apart from building inspection report, go and get structure and geotech engineering reports.
  • Do not buy house with asbestos, as it is toxic.
  • Do not buy plaster house.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Introduction for Moisture Testing in Property Inspection

Timber moisture testing in building surveying can be divided into the following three categories:

  • Destructive testing
  • Invasive testing
  • Non-invasive testing

Destructive testing
Destructive investigation, such as illustrated: 

and followed by laboratory testing is the only way to reveal the timber frame condition of the subject building, but rarely used for a pre-purchase visual inspection if ever can be used at all due to its obvious physical damages to wall cladding. 

Invasive testing
According to the AGREEMENT FOR SALE AND PURCHASE OF REAL ESTATE – Ninth Edition 2012, “The building inspector may not carry out any invasive testing in the course of inspection without the vendor's prior written consent”. 

It is unlikely that any property owner will give permission to a potential buyer to do any probing invasive testing, such as using Trotec T500K, as damages to wall cladding still be substantial. 
Trotec T500K Timber Framing  Moisture Meter
In the event of owner’s approval, pin point moisture meters such as Protimeter Mini or Trotec T500
Protimeter MiniTrotec T500 Timber Moisture Meter

may be used to interior surface such like on skirting boards, on particle floor boards, ceiling plaster board lining and etc. Readings from this type of invasive moisture meters only indicate the moisture content of the incipient surface, which normally be timber skirting board, plaster board, cork, wall paper or combination of some of them, which are not necessarily be a representative of moisture percentage of the underlying timber frame.

Unless otherwise stated and under a written approval of the vendor, invasive testing using pin point moisture meters will only be carried out to timber foundation structure or some parts of exterior wall cladding if necessary.

Non-invasive testing
None of currently available non-invasive moisture meters, such as Trotec T650 or Protimeter Aquant

Trotec T650Protimeter Aquant

can produce moisture content percentage of the material tested. The fact that, significant amount of pre-purchase or pre-sell inspection reports are giving moisture percentage readings for different areas or parts of buildings inspected, does not mean any revolutionary technology advancement. (also refer: 
http://bc.org.nz/moisture.html for further comments made by William Hursthouse regarding abused moisture testing within pre-purchase inspection industry ).

Moisture contents obtained from wall lining surface using any type of non-invasive moisture meters do not equal to moisture content of underlying timber frame.

Depends on detection depth, which normally be within 20 – 40mm, moisture readings obtained with non-invasive type of moisture meters at best are indications of moisture contents of combination of all building materials directly behind the point being tested, which may include skirting board, wall paper, plaster board, insulation material, framing (timber or steel) member and etc. The relationship between non-invasive meter readings and timber moisture contents can only be interpreted by the building inspector based on his/her relevant building knowledge. When high readings can often indicate high moisture contents within underlying timber frame, there are many significant common deviations:

  • High meter reading does not necessarily indicate high moisture content

Surface wetness within wet area can result high readings even when underlying framing structure is dry.
Non-invasive moisture meters can be interrupted by underlying wiring, pipes, metal, foil and produce False Positive Readings.

  • Low meter reading does not necessarily indicate low moisture content

Meter reading depth (normally be 20-40mm) is very limited comparing with wall thickness (can be 120mm or more). External moisture ingress often limited within outer part of timber frame, which is well beyond reading depth of most non-invasive moisture meters;

  • High moisture content may not indicate any issues

It is not uncommon to see some inspectors pointing moisture meters to tiled floor surface around shower waste and concluding shower leaks. But as long as showers are regularly being used, there must be some water siting between underside of tiles and waterproof membrane. That is absolutely normal and that is why we need waterproofing membrane for. In that case high moisture readings may not indicate any issue at all.

  • Low moisture content does not directly indicate soundness of timber frame

As long as dry, rotten timber will not result any high moisture readings. In reality due to weather conditions, repair works in the past, loss of clamping points due to timber dimension change as result of decay, rotten framing can be very dry and therefore may give some False Negative Readings

Thursday, April 18, 2013

有关对James Hardie的诉讼


1. 如果教育部可以打赢这场官司,这将是一个划时代的case law。James Hardie作为Harditex 的生产商将面临建筑行业历史上的最大一笔赔付。相信它无力承担;
2. 如果这一案例能够证明是产品问题,而非设计和施工问题,这一案例将推翻之前所有几千个案子的评判结果。到今天位置,James Hardie被告无数次,但没有一次成功,不过这一次他遇到了强劲对手;
3. 如果产品问题一旦被证明,相关认证机构,如BRANZ是否会被拖下水;
4. 如果产品问题一旦被证明属实,以前的“冤假错案”如何收拾?James Hardie所面临的岂止是教育部的15个亿纽币;
5. 这一问题实际上至少10年前就很清楚,为何教育部今天才决定采取如此的举措,莫非是他们掌握了一定的有份量的证据?
6. 我个人的一贯认为是,7.5mm厚的墙板在没有通风层的情况下无法有效处理墙体中由于温度迅速变化导致的水凝结。这一问题是在施工质量完全符合厂家规定的情况下也会出现的。拭目以待看看从技术层面上讲,教育部是否能够得到有力的证据;
7. 早在2年前就已经有过案例证明在施工和设计完全符合要求的情况下,外墙出现渗漏而导致整体外墙更换,也可能那时候教育部就已经开始酝酿了。既然教育部决定打这场战争,就一定是有备而来,因为业内人士都知道James Hardie是一个从没有人能够啃动的骨头。耐心等待,就像Grimshaw说的,估计结果需要n年以后。

Monday, April 8, 2013







1. 是否有托在这里故意说我们的好话:




2. 我们是否只是做“表面功夫”

这个总结实际上很对,这差不多是对“non-invasive visual inspection”的最完美的翻译。通过购房检测,对所检测的房屋在有限的时间内,不动一草一木的前提下,对重大原则问题得出判断,这种“表面功夫”实际没那么简单,这也是购房检测之所以被视为超高风险行业的主要原因。不要认为测湿仪或红外线就会改变这个“表面功夫”的性质,在购房检测阶段,检测漏水房最关键的还是目测和分析。我的身上装满了各种检测工具,但目前发现的所有问题,都是通过“表面功夫”看出来的。

3. 什么地方我们必须要进入,什么地方我们不必要或者不允许进入:





Monday, March 4, 2013

Inspector's risk - 1

Inspectors had not been the real target in the past when most leakers are within the "10 year frame". But what happens when leakers are expired, i.e. exceeded the "10 year statutory limitation"? In that situation Councils no longer be the last standing party with full pocket. Who can pay you to fix your leaky house if not Council? The answer looks like - the Pre-purchase Inspector.


One reader wondering why Council does not pay. Here is the answer:


The house was eligible and therefore if FAP is selected, 50% of the repair cost would covered by the government and the council. As there is no further WHRS related case, I assume that the owner went for FAP.

Plus the 50% cost recovery from the inspector, the owner's repair cost is fully recovered.

I reckon the inspector in this case is pretty lucky. If this case is outside the 10-year-frame, then the owner would be fighting for 100% cost recovery from the inspector.

Here is the summary of the Case:

Case CIV-2011-485-1308 Hepburn vs. Cunningham

A house built at 2000 with texture coated fibre cement is bought at 2007 by the plaintiff based on a positive "quick check" builder's report issued by the respondent. Although built with wide eaves, apparent cladding defects, such as lack of cladding/ground clearance, omitted by the inspector which is introduced by the agent. No Terms & Conditions form was signed by the plaintiff. 

3 years after the purchase, the house was marketed again and was inspected by RealSure on behalf of a purchaser with a report showing various weathertightness issues. 

The plaintiff subsequently applied through WHRS, which expert recommended partial repair costing 100k. 
The plaintiff gone further through High Court and sought more than 500k for damages with final decision in favor of plaintiff for 360k award with half to be paid by the inspector. 

Issues to be discussed:
Quick check vs. Rolls Royce service
Roles of Terms and Conditions
Significant issues, if not rocket science, to be reported
Duty to give clear advise rather than a report only

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What do You need to do to have a good inspection

Before inspection

Go through terms and conditions of a standard inspection (pre-purchase, pre-sale & maintenance inspections). Inspection will never look right if your expectation is too high. Understanding what we can not do is more important than only knowing what can we do.

Workout the differences between different inspections:

  • Standard building inspection, 
  • Invasive building defects investigations,
  • Specialist inspections, including plumbing, electrical, drainage, engineering, geotechnical and etc
  • Weathertightness investigations
  • Weathertgihtness assessment inspection
  • Moisture testing
  • Thermal imaging
  • Timber decay diagnoses

You will be able to find the suitable inspector only when you know how different they are. If you have employed the wrong type of inspector, then you will unlikely get the result you really wanted, if not resulted with a disaster.

Also see my other post regarding this topic.

During inspection

Do not follow me and ask me questions when I'm in the middle of inspection. I can be easily disturbed and lose my focus.

Do present during inspection and ask me as much questions as possible onsite, rather than on the phone.

Having your whole family talking to me may not be a good idea. You are likely equipped with a smart phone. Record when I presenting on site.

Also see my other post regarding this topic.

After inspection

If more questions to be asked post an inspection, try email us with the questions rather than calling me when I'm standing on my ladder in the middle of an inspection. You may think I know everything anytime for a house I've inspected, but I'm not. I often remember nothing, unless if I get any chance to go though the report over again.

Also see my other post regarding this topic.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

More about non-invasive moisture testing






it to be noted that, 

1. there is no such a chart to indicate so called acceptable moisture level. 

2. any judgement to moisture level must be based on analysis of the building as a whole

3. most leaky buildings do not show any sign of high moisture readings based on non-invasive inspections

4. according to new version of real estate agreement, invasive moisture testing is banded from pre-purchase inspections

5. in most cases "acceptable" readings obtained to a house are either lower or not significantly higher than readings obtained from reference points (dry spots), but they can be anything from 0 to 100 or any other digit.
6. judge a building based on so called "acceptable moisture level" only can be dangerous and misleading

7. no one other than the inspector himself can interpret his moisture readings based on photos only without particular context 

Monday, September 24, 2012


1. 很多公寓都有大楼的名字,诸如 Spencer on Byron  等等,不妨先google一下,看看是否有相关的新闻和评论,至少如果是很有名的漏水房,一定可以搜出来;

2. Body Corp的相关信息(long term maintenance plan and minutes)根据法律的规定要对买家公开,请中介协助搜集所有相关信息,如果有不明白的可以在找builder检测时问问,虽然这不是检测的项目,但负责任的builder都会帮助看看,而且很可能能提出一些意见或建议;

3. 把其它事情,如贷款,LIM,估价等先搞定,然后再做builder's report,这很适用于公寓,因为根据我们的记录,公寓房查出严重问题的几率并不高,所以搞定其它事情显得更为重要;

4. 如果可能,最好选择在房间里没有人的时候做检测。原因如下:

  • 公寓一般很小,但经常住很多人,再加上检测人员(我们是两个人),中介和买家,房间里经常有喘不过气的感觉,检测时很不舒服
  • 很多住公寓的都是白天睡觉。我们检测时经常有正在睡觉的,很不方便,在人家躺在被窝里的时候在床边晃来晃去,那种感觉挺不舒服的
  • 屋里人太多时,很多关键的角落不好检查,有时候没办法,只能忽略
5. 和其他检测一样,不要在检测过程中问问题,我们不会拒绝回答,但是会受干扰。有问题或者在检测之前问,或者之后问。对于任何我们需要解释给你的问题,我们都会把照片放到随身带的电脑里来演示给客人。我们更喜欢在我们的车里和客人单独谈论有关房子的问题,而不是面对其他人;

6. 最后,公寓和其他房产的最大区别是,我们无法检测房顶和公用区域,因为够不到,或者打不开。我们只能够看到所检测的公寓附近的外墙面,所以对公寓楼的整体分析会缺乏足够根据。有些人会对这一点不满意,但没办法,不是做不到,而是对于购房检测,受时间和费用的限制,不可能把整个楼做系统分析,如果你买的是整个楼,那是另一码事儿。

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Inspector - the definition

According to what described in NZS 4306, a inspector is A person, partnership or company qualified and experienced to undertake property inspections. 

How do we define "qualified"? Does that mean holding some kind of qualification? Tertiary qualification, degree, diploma, certificate? Or maybe belongs to any kind of organisation, e.g. RICS, NZIBS, LBP, Master builders association, Certified builders association? Or passed some kind of examination or testing? Or holding some kind of license?

According to the new AGREEMENT FOR SALE AND PURCHASE OF REAL ESTATE, The report must be prepared in good faith by a suitably-qualified building inspector in accordance with accepted principles and methods.

Again, how can we define "suitably-qualified". Can we say DIYers are not suitably qualified, but master builders are suitably qualified? What about a plumber, can he perform a property inspection? What about a brick layer? If a carpenter is assumed to be a suitably qualified, then why a brick-layer is not?

Will there be any argument if I'm in the inspection industry for 30 years but holding no qualifications? Wise versa, will you challenge my "illegibility" if I got a certificate in carpentry, but without industry experience? Does Suitably-qualified mean experienced? or means experienced and also qualified (holding a relevant qualification)?

So nether NZS 4306 nor the new Agreement gave us a clear picture: Who can do the inspection.